China, US officials pursue agreement on 'clean coal' technologies as industry struggles

U.S. and Chinese officials are working on an agreement to advance "clean coal" technologies that purport to reduce the fuel's contribution to climate change — and offer a potential lifeline for an industry that's seen its fortunes fade.

U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Christopher Smith said Tuesday the agreement emphasizes collaboration on technologies to capture greenhouse gases produced from burning coal.

Smith and other Obama administration officials met with representatives of China's National Energy Administration at an industry forum in Billings. China leads the world in coal consumption.

The discussions took place near one of the largest coal reserves in the world — the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming.

Clean-coal technologies are expensive, and efforts to develop them for commercial use have struggled to gain traction in the U.S.